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The Hindu Analysis Free PDF Download

Date: 26 March 2020

 

India’s unprecedented 21-day national

  • lockdown is an unparalleled effort at stopping the march of a fastspreading scourge that has overwhelmed the health infrastructure of several nations.
  •  Full national lockdown is welcomed by the medical community
  • AIM: flatten the curve of transmission Severe disruption and millions of people unprepared
  •  This should give the government sufficient time to plan a treatment response. Wider testing of all suspected cases is important for lockdown to work.
  • War room approach: reliable access to food, water, medicines and emergency assistance
  • Some States have moved early and announced cash relief and free rations.
  • Allowing delivery of medicines by pharmacies is important and essential personnel must be given passes that protect them from police harassment and ensure movement of goods.
  • Deplorable trend of social discrimination against health workers handling COVID-19 cases
  •  The hardest hit are the millions of daily wage earners, the self-employed and small businesses, and the rural landless poor.
  • Finance Minister on Tuesday announced a welcome slew of tax and regulatory compliance.
  • Centre must abandon its fiscal deficit goals at this moment of a worldwide healthcare and economic crisis.
  • Centre needs to immediately release sizeable cash grants to all persons with Jan-Dhan accounts and BPL ration cards.

Dressing a wounded economy

  •  The impact of the coranavirus pandemic is now felt by almost every country.
  • Health effects + Economic impact
  • The economic impact on India can be traced through four channels:
  1. Rangarajan Former Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister and Former Governor, Reserve Bank of India
  • External Demand
  • Domestic Demand
  •  Supply Disruptions
  •  Financial Market Disturbances
  •  India’s oil import bill will come down substantially.
  • But this will affect adversely the oil exporting countries which absorb Indian labour.
  • One is unable to make an estimate of the reduction in economic activity at this point.
  • It is estimated that nearly 60% of our imports is in the category of ‘intermediate goods’.
  •  Financial markets: entire reaction is based on fear.
  • The two major tools that are available are monetary policy and fiscal actions.
  • Monetary policy in a situation like this can only act to stimulate demand by a greater push of liquidity and credit.
  • Policy rate has already been brought down by 135 basis points over the last several months.
  • There is obviously scope for further reduction.
  •  But it is the environment of the overall economy that counts.
  •  Repayments to banks can be delayed and the authorities must be willing to relax the rules.
  •  Fiscal actions have a major role to play.
  • Revenues are likely to go down further because of the virus related slowdown in economic activity.
  • Now that private hospitals are allowed to test, the cost of the people going to private hospitals must also be met by the government. It is mentioned that a test costs ₹4,500.
  • We must appeal to the business units to keep even non-permanent workers on their rolls and provide them with a minimal income.
  • Some relief can be thought of by the government for such business units even though this can be misused.
  • The burden on the government will depend upon the quantum of per capita cash transfer and the length of the period.
  • Provision of food and other essentials must be made available to the affected as is done at the time of floods or drought.

Test, test, test for the virus

  •  Coronavirus RNA is new to the human immunological system.
  • Therefore, there are a lot of unanswered questions with regard to immunity, recurrence, carrier state, treatment and vaccines.
  •  As India is a lower-middle-income country with a healthcare expenditure that is consistently below 1.5% of the GDP.
  • An increase in testing will identify the actual number of cases that would require quarantine and prompt treatment.
  •  Setting up diagnostic centres in every district general hospital should be the top-most priority.
  •  Travel bans and quarantines are imperative measures, but testing alone can reveal the extent of the disease in the community.
  • Misinformation, especially on the use of facial masks, alternative medicine, and availability of a cure, should be avoided.
  • Every individual at risk, and not just those in power, should be tested on request.
  • The WHO categorised India as having local transmission. If so, lessons can be learnt from South Korea which is taking 6,388 tests per million of the population compared to India’s 11.6.

NEWS

  • Aim is to win the war against COVID-19 in 21 days: Modi The country is fighting a war against the novel coronavirus and the aim is to win it in 21 days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday, a day after he announced a national lockdown of three weeks to combat the pandemic.
  •  Interacting with people in his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi through videoconference, Mr. Modi said: “The Mahabharata war was won in 18 days, this war the whole country is fighting against coronavirus will take 21 days.”
  • As the total count of COVID-19 cases in India touched 606 on Wednesday, the Centre said there was still no proof of “community transmission”. With one more death on Wednesday, the virus has claimed 10 lives, according to the Union Health Ministry.
  • The Prime Minister urged citizens to support healthcare professionals and others who are working through the lockdown.

 Modi ‘pained’ by harassment of doctors

  •  Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said he had instructed the police chiefs of different States to take strict action against those who ill-treat or don’t cooperate with doctors, nurses and other professionals who are providing vital services in the fight against COVID-19.
  • When asked about the incidents of discrimination and harassment faced by the staff members of airlines who helped to rescue COVID-19 patients and doctors and nurses tending to such people, the Prime Minister said he was pained by such reports.
  • Mr. Modi said that if people noticed such incidents of ill-treatment of doctors, nurses or ‘safai karamcharis’, they should point it out and warn the offenders. Nurses and doctors working in white uniform against COVID-19 “are a form of god,” he said.
  • Mr. Modi also asked people, especially those capable, to take care of nine poor families for 21 days as part of Navratri, as well as the animals, that could not fend for themselves due to the shutdown of services and transport.
  • “This will be a true Navratri,” he said, asking the people to adopt ‘karuna’ (compassion) as another step to defeat corona [virus].

 e-passes for key services, says Kejriwal

  • Citizens engaged in essential services in Delhi can call 1031 on WhatsApp to avail e-passes to be able to commute to work, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Wednesday.
  • e-passes were not required for the general public, who were free to visit local shops for the purchase of essential items, even as he sought to assure citizens that Delhi was prepared to ensure the supply of essential goods to residents during the 21-day “total lockdown” ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to contain the spread of COVID-19.
  • Delivery issues add to woes for homebound
  • Many e-commerce firms were forced to suspend deliveries to their customers in major cities across the country on Wednesday with local authorities unable to ensure the safety of delivery persons on the first day of the 21-day nationwide lockdown.
  • 25 worshippers killed in IS attack on Kabul gurdwara
  • A lone Islamic State gunman rampaged through a Sikh house of worship in the heart of the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Wednesday, killing 25 worshippers and wounding eight, Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry said.
  • The gunman held many of the worshippers hostage for several hours as Afghan special forces, helped by international troops, tried to clear the building. At least one of the dead was a child.
  • "Such cowardly attacks on the places of religious worship of the minority community,” India said, reflect the “diabolical mindset of the perpetrators and their backers.”
  • India hints at Pak. hand in Kabul gurdwara attack
  •  India strongly condemned Wednesday’s terror strike on a gurdwara in Kabul and pledged to help the Sikh and Hindu communities of Afghanistan.
  •  The attack began at 7.45 a.m. and continued till midday, leaving at least 11 dead.
  •  The attackers temporarily took around 200 devotees hostage during this time.
  • The Taliban, which is in a fragile peace negotiation with the government of President Ashraf Ghani, has denied any role in the gurdwara attack.
  •  The MEA hinted at Pakistan’s involvement in the act.

News

Ministers working from home

  • A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide 21-day lockdown, the government too tried to get adjusted to this changed reality.
  • While Mr. Modi himself held a meeting of his Cabinet trying to maintain an appropriate physical distance, Home Minister Amit Shah is said to have cancelled all appointments with people other than those connected the Ministry — that too, only if the issue cannot be resolved over the phone.
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman too is largely working from home, though she did attend a meeting of the Cabinet this morning. “A lot of the work is being done through videoconferencing and technology,” said a source.

FinMin writes to RBI for relaxing farm loan NPA norms

  •  The Finance Ministry has asked the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to relax asset classification norms for farm loans extended by banks following the stress faced by the agriculture sector.
  •  Agriculture Ministry which is considering an extension of the interest subvention scheme for the farm sector which, in turn, would require relaxation of NPA norms.
  • As per the RBI’s asset classification norms, a loan is classified as nonperforming by banks if repayment is due for more than 90 days.
  • The spread of COVID-19 has resulted in a lockdown across the country with economic and other activities coming to a grinding halt.
  •  Union Cabinet approves recapitalisation of RRBs
  •  The Centre has approved a ₹1,340-crore recapitalisation plan for regional rural banks (RRBs) to improve their capital-to-risk weighted assets ratio (CRAR), strengthening these institutions that are critical to the provision of credit in rural areas.
  •  This would provide minimum regulatory capital for one more year viz. up to 2020-21 for those RRBs that are unable to maintain the minimum CRAR of 9%.
  •  The RRBs are required to provide 75% of their total credit as priority sector lending with primary focus on agricultural credit, including small and marginal farmers, as well as micro entrepreneurs and rural artisans.
  •  At a time of lockdown due to the COVID-19 crisis, financially stronger rural banks could also be crucial to ensuring liquidity in rural areas.